Behind the Scenes: How I Came to Have a Natural Birth and Maternity Must-Haves

Behind the Scenes: How I Came to Have a Natural Birth and Maternity Must-Haves
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Maternity Must-Haves by Braised in a Kitchen

*DISCLAIMERS: (1) I am not a medical professional. If you are pregnant, think that you might be pregnant, or are trying to conceive you should always check with your healthcare provider before using vitamins, supplements, probiotics, or any new product. (2) The links included below in this article are affiliate links. That means I make a small commission – at no charge to you – off of any purchase you make through these links. I appreciate the support offered to help me run Braised in a Kitchen and please know, I will never recommend a product that I don’t personally use myself.*

Back in 2018 we had our precious little love-bug, Richard. And now its 2020 and I’m expecting baby #2 in just a few weeks! So today I thought I would share how I came to have a natural birth and some maternity must-haves.

Through these two pregnancies I have definitely compiled a list of things that I consider to be maternity must-haves. Because, let’s face it, pregnancy can be downright uncomfortable at times. Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing to be bringing a new little one into the world, but somewhere along the way between morning sickness, crazy heartburn, and swollen elephant feet you can start to feel like you’ve lost your “glow”. So here are some things that I use to help make gestating more comfortable:

Maternity Must-Haves

Pregnancy Pillow

First and foremost on my list is the pregnancy pillow. I’m naturally a side sleeper, but not everyone is and during pregnancy it’s especially important to sleep on your side. This pillow helps so much with that. Plus, it can help alleviate some of the aches and pains that come as you get further along!

Maternity Band 

This has been crucial for me this time around! My hips, ligaments, and back have been so sore and this band has helped A LOT. Plus it hides well under shirts and dresses.

Garden of Life Once a Day Prenatal 

My favorite prenatal vitamins! They are once-a-day vitamins (because who can remember to take more pills than that?!) and they contain folate and iron.

Jarrow Probiotics 

Probiotics are super important, especially when you’re pregnant (plus they can help prevent GBS!) and this is my go-to brand.

Morning Sickness Drops 

I didn’t really have much morning sickness when I was pregnant with Richard, but oh-my-goodness did that change this time around (I’ve heard morning sickness is more common with girls, so maybe that’s why?). I was so sick I couldn’t even keep water down for a couple of days. These drops definitely helped stave off my sickness some of the time – sometimes I think you just have to deal with it.

Papaya Enzymes 

Along with morning sickness, lots of mamas-to-be experience heartburn/acid reflux – myself included. Behold your answer: papaya enzymes. They really do make the heartburn go away, its magical.

Natural Calm 

Another maternity must-have that I make sure we always have on hand. This magnesium powder helps me sleep better at night, helps stave off leg cramps, and keeps things…you know…regular. When I was pregnant with Richard we went up to Illinois and I forgot to pack this. Needless to say we were hitting up the nearest pharmacy after the first night of tossing and turning and sore/restless legs.

Pink Stork Pregnancy Magnesium Flakes 

Another great way to combat morning sickness, restless leg syndrome, and pregnancy insomnia is to soak in a tub before bed with these magnesium flakes. It really does help relax and refresh you and get you ready for bed!

Mommee Decaf Coffee 

After jealously watching my hubby enjoy his 3rd cup of coffee every morning I knew something had to give. I either needed to find some coffee I could enjoy too or he was going to have to move out. I tried the less drastic measure first and found this amazing decaf coffee. It has less acid in it than traditional decaf coffee which means less heartburn and less morning sickness for the mom-to-be. Because you gotta be able to have some fun when you’re pregnant!

KIND Bars with Dark Chocolate and Cherry 

I like to keep these in my nightstand to munch on first thing in the morning and – you  guessed it – help stave off morning sickness. They are sweet without having too much sugar in them, plus they have lots of antioxidants and protein. NOTE: if you have gestational diabetes this is probably a no-go.

Ankle Compression Socks 

Like most mamas-to-be my feet start swelling towards the end of my pregnancy. Like to the point that I can’t wear flip flops! These compression socks make a huge difference, plus I like this kind because (1) they are ankle socks which means in the summer I don’t have to walk around in shorts and knee-high compression socks like some school girl who got into a little too much trouble, and (2) they are toeless which means you can still wear flip flops or sandals with them!

Burt’s Bees Mama Relaxation Trio 

This trio contains belly butter to help avoid stretch marks, body oil, and a peppermint leg and foot cream. Because all mamas-to-be need to be a little pampered! NOTE: If you are nursing you should avoid contact with peppermint as it can decrease your milk supply.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting 

I know this book has kind of become a cliche, but it really is helpful. Especially if it’s your first pregnancy. I am a little very anxious by nature and one thing that helps me feel calmer is to know what to expect and this book definitely gives you all the nitty-gritty details as well as anecdotes by fellow pregnant mamas. It walks you through the good and the hard parts of pregnancy including miscarriage, which is so important.

Mama Natural Week-by-Week Pregnancy Guide 

My other go-to pregnancy book is this one. Even if you aren’t planning on having a natural birth, this book gives lots of healthy and natural tips and ideas to use throughout your whole pregnancy. And if you are planning on a natural birth then you definitely need this book – she helps you prepare for natural labor and gives you an idea of what to expect at the hospital, birth center, or at home.

The Birth Partner 

When I was pregnant with Richard we got a couple of books for Lane as well. However, after reading a few chapters in each of them we were both extremely disappointed. They were either overly simplistic or they seemed to focus solely on the dad. I mean, I get it. Becoming a dad is an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience, but we were really looking for something that would help Lane understand what I was going through during my pregnancy. 10 months is a long time to live with a hormonal, uncomfortable, sick, emotional woman. However, this book was amazing! It helped both of us get ideas for how Lane could support me during my pregnancy and labor/delivery. Lane was an amazing birth partner during Richard’s birth and I really cherish the memories I have of the two of us sitting together in a dark quiet room while I was in labor with Richard.

Maternity Shorts 

Ok, I didn’t include any other maternity clothes on here because each mama has her own style. But being pregnant in the summer is…hot. It’s just miserably hot. These shorts are awesome and I love that the maternity band comes up over my belly.

How I Came to Have a Natural Birth

Before I start, please know, I am not at all trying to bring down mamas who go the hospital route. I think birth is a very personal thing and each mama should make the choice that is right for her. I have lots of friends who go straight for the epidural or c-section and I totally get it. I also have friends who do the home birth thing, and I get that too. In the end we each need to do what is right for us and we need to support all mamas out there in whatever choice they make. I just want to share my story for any mamas who might be considering natural birth and want more information about it.

I Knew I Wanted a Natural Birth From the Beginning

When I got pregnant with Richard I already knew I wanted to try for a natural birth. I’m not going to lie, this was entirely motivated by my very real phobia of needles. That’s right. I’m a crazy lady who would rather go through natural labor than deal with an epidural needle. So, after doing some research we found a hospital in our area that was highly recommended for natural birth.

But the truth is, I really didn’t know very much about labor and birth and delivery. Also, news flash for any mamas-to-be it is not like what they show on TV and movies. Y’all probably already figured that out, but I was a little late to that game. So as I started doing more research and learning more about what natural birth really meant, I realized that my idea of a natural birth and the hospital’s idea were two very different things. After calling the L&D ward at the hospital and asking some basic questions, I discovered that I would not have as much say in my labor and delivery as I wanted if I went the hospital route.

Leaving the Hospital and Going to a Birth Center

So, it started looking like the hospital was not going to be the right place for me. But I also knew that a home birth was not what I wanted. First of all, I just knew that as soon as I went into labor I would be trying to run around the house and get everything cleaned up before the midwife came over and I just didn’t want to have to deal with that (I have a bit of a Type A streak in me). But I am also very anxious by nature and I knew that I would be worried the whole time that something would go wrong if we weren’t at least near a hospital.

But, the best of both worlds came together when we found a birth center literally blocks away from our original hospital of choice. What really made me see that my ideal birth experience would be outside a hospital was doing an exercise from our birth prep class. The mama-to-be and her partner are asked to visualize their ideal birth experience and describe where they are, who is there with them, what they see, hear, and how they feel.

For my exercise I imagined myself in a cozy cottage with a huge garden on a cliff overlooking the ocean. I could hear the waves through the window while I labored in a big tub. There was a fire crackling in the other room and a lovely four-poster bed waiting for me to sink into it with my new baby. Lane, on the other hand, totally imagined us in a hospital with tubes and monitors and nurses and doctors.

It Just Feels Like Home

So I after I forced convinced him to at least tour some birth centers we narrowed our choices down to two and ended up visiting the one closest to the hospital first. Oh my goodness. For me, it was love at first sight. The birth center is in a home that has been redone into the business but it still has such a home-y feel. And the birth suites both had huge tubs and beautiful beds.

All the medical equipment was stored away in furniture so you just feel like you’re in someone’s beautiful bedroom (who just happen to have a giant tub in the room too). And the midwife, Amy, who led our tour was amazing. She was so calm and friendly and warm and exactly the kind of person I knew I would want with me during one of the most challenging times of my life.

We became clients right there on the spot and we always say it was the best birth decision we ever made. One day I will share my actual birth story, but I just wanted to take some time and talk a little bit about the differences I noticed right away between the birth center and my traditional OBGYN.

OBGYNs vs. Midwives…?

First, let me say, my OBGYN was great. She was very nice and I really did enjoy working with her. I had some complications with my pregnancy during my first trimester (nothing too major) and she was great during those times. But, there was a difference between my visits with her and my visits with the midwives.

I switched to the birth center during my 3rd trimester and the biggest difference I noticed right away was that I was in complete control. If something came up my midwives would explain the situation, lay out my options, explain the pros and cons of each choice, and then let me choose. I think (for the most part, not always) doctors are used to just telling their patients what to do. And I totally understand that, in most cases. After all, they went to school for this stuff. They are specialized. They deal with the problems daily and they know a lot more than a Google search can give us.

But I think that has led to a lot of disempowerment for women when it comes to birth. Unlike an illness that needs to be treated and eradicated, birth is a natural thing – in most cases it is not a medical condition. Mamas deserve to be heard and have their choices respected, regardless of where they give birth. We know our bodies better than anyone else and each pregnancy and birth is different. I so appreciated being listened to, having my options clearly laid out, and being given the power to choose what was right for me. I just want to encourage any mamas-to-be out there, no matter what type of care provider you choose, you should get a say in your pregnancy and birth.

Share below…

What are some of your maternity must-haves?

Did you choose a hospital, birth center, or home birth, and how did you come to that decision?

*Please note: any comments shaming other mamas for their personal birth choices will not be published or will be deleted. We are here to build each other up and encourage one another, not tear each other down over a very personal choice.